CRRJ to aid City of Boston Reparations Task Force, researching Boston’s legacy of slavery

It was announced on January 24, 2024, that the City of Boston’s Task Force on Reparations has selected a Northeastern University School of Law team, led by CRRJ Director Margaret Burnham, to research the multi-generational impact of slavery on Black Bostonians.

The team’s report will play a central role in guiding the city’s reparations efforts.

“Our goal will be to highlight how power was exercised in the City of Boston to allocate resources, benefiting certain groups and burdening others,” said Burnham, who heads Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project and is co-director of the school’s Center for Law, Equity and Race (CLEAR).

Burnham will co-lead the team with Dr. Deborah A. Jackson, managing director of CLEAR. The group will conduct archival research into the legacies of slavery as they affected public education, public services, housing, and economic development from 1940 to the present in the City.

The team will also draw on the expertise and knowledge of Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Ted Landsmark; Director of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute Richard O’Bryant; and community leader Donna Bivens.

The Task Force, chaired by Joseph Feaster Jr., a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, was mandated by the City Council through a city ordinance at the end of 2022. The initial call for proposals for research partners wasreleased in September 2023. The Task Force has until the end of 2024 to make its recommendations for reparative justice solutions in Boston.

The recommendations have to be based on a comprehensive and accurate illumination and understanding of the history. Otherwise, the recommendations will be formed in a vacuum.”

“The goal is to research the ways in which city policy disadvantaged its minority communities, its communities of color, and the ways in which city policies reinforced the segregatory and discriminatory behavior of private actors,” said Burnham.

Additional coverage of this story can be found on Northeastern Law’s website, The Bay State Banner, GBH and The Boston Globe.

Photo by Brett Wharton (@brettwharton)

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